The Committee Comes Through … Again

Once again tossing the concept of a feature running back aside, LSU's offense did against Ole Miss what it typically does best – let multiple players handle the carries and score touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

That's the way Tigers coach Les Miles wants it to be.

"There's still a number of guys taking carries there," Miles said. "You know, 18 carries the ball, and 26 carries the ball, and 32 carries the ball. All those guys got some decent carries and some nice yards. So, that's the way it's supposed to be – fresh backs running through there; key carries go to the guy that we think those plays benefit him best."

Miles, of course, was referencing Jacob Hester, Richard Murphy, and Charles Scott by number. He did, however, fail to mention Keiland Williams, Trindon Holliday, and even Matt Flynn as viable rushers for the Tigers against the Rebels last Saturday night.

In a game where LSU gained 228 yards on the ground, Scott's 66 yards on just three carries led the attack, but he was closely followed by Hester's 13 carries for 65 yards.

Williams added 41 yards on five carries, Holliday had 25 yards on four rushes, Murphy chipped in 17 yards on three carries, and Flynn rounded it all off with 14 yards on 12 carries.

"We didn't have one big standout today, but as a team we played well," Holliday said. "It's a team game, so we just have to come out and work hard as a team."

Although it wasn't a running play from scrimmage, Holliday also contributed a kickoff return for 98 yards and a touchdown that negated a game-tying score that came on a 44-yard punt return by Marshay Green with 3:18 to go in the first quarter.

"I know you guys are professional," Miles said. "You don't necessarily smile when a guy breaks out like that. But surely it's entertaining, isn't it? It's great fun to see a guy that has that kind of speed get in front."

Hester, thought of more as a power back than a speedster by most, seemed to enjoy Holliday's return just as much as Miles.

"As soon as you see that guy in the open field you know it's a touchdown," Hester said. "That's huge momentum. For them to score on a punt like that and get the momentum back their way and then Trindon (Holliday) just kills their crowd. … That's huge when you have special teams play like that. As long as Trindon can keep doing that, it's a good thing."

But other than Holliday's return and a 5-yard run by Flynn for a score that capped an 11-play, 98-yard drive on the Tigers' first possession of the game, LSU didn't score in the first half. Three touchdown runs by three different running backs were still to come in the second half, though.

With just seven points separating the two teams after halftime, LSU came out and embarked on a 10-play, 54-yard drive that ended with Williams covering the last 10 yards for a score. Hester would get his touchdown on a 2-yard bull rush with 3:44 in the fourth quarter that put the Tigers ahead by 17. Scott's touchdown, the last score of the game, came with just 2:15 to go in the contest when he broke a few tackles, got to the outside, and dashed into the end zone from 29 yards out to push the advantage to 17 points once again.

"We're all different," Hester said of the backfield's styles. "We're all different running backs. It creates different problems for different defenses. We don't care how many carries we get. Everybody touched the ball tonight. Obviously you can do that every game, but as long as we can keep a good rotation going with who's hot it will really create problems for defenses."

There has only been one occasion this season when the Tigers haven't rushed for over 100 yards as a team. That one instance was against Alabama, but of course the Tigers threw for more yards in that game than any other in the 2007 season thus far. Other than that, however, LSU has equaled or surpassed a low of 134 yards every time out. As games go on, it seems the Tigers are able to wear down opposing defenses. What is typically overlooked is the amount of yardage on the ground that LSU is putting together before the games get late.

"It's kind of an old coaching axiom that if you rush the football for 4 yards in the first quarter, by the time you get to the fourth quarter, if you're rushing the football, those 4-yard gains are 6 and 8 (yards)," Miles said. "I'm certain there was some fatigue factor in there."

In this instance, Miles was actually talking about the yards Ole Miss was amassing as the game went along. But the axiom has proven true time and again for the Tigers themselves.

"I think right now, I think we're playing our best football as a whole, especially the offensive line," Hester said. "They're really coming together; tight ends are getting involved, everybody's involved. So as an offense I think we're on track to play our best football right now if we can just keep it going over the next couple of weeks."

The "next couple of weeks" Hester was referring to include this Friday's game against Arkansas and the SEC Championship Game the following week. Don't look for anything different from LSU's backfield than has been shown all season long.

Ole Miss running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark against LSU last Saturday. The day after Thanksgiving, the Tigers will face Darren McFadden. He'll be looking to pass up Bo Jackson for the third spot on the SEC's all-time rushing list.

Somehow, it is highly doubtful Tigers fans would enjoy watching an LSU back accumulate those types of statistics if it meant they also had to endure the Tigers being mired with similar records to the Rebels and Razorbacks.

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